We need to be careful when we’re asked to look up from our day-to-day issues to think strategically about the future and what we can do to improve it. It suggests that there is a big, game-changing idea out there that will make things better – if only we could think of it.
But both our personal and business lives prove that it’s the accumulation of many actions, decisions and innovations that get us to where we want to be. The “big idea” is essential. It sets the course and speed of our journey, but it rarely delivers the ultimate destination. We must use both.
In recent years I have written an article for the Forum about how inconsistent behaviour by strategic institutions can create barriers to our happiness and another about the power of disruptive technology to bring them together to create that better world. I’ve also talked about the importance of making every business decision not only about the outcome, but about how that outcome is achieved and the impact it has on the society it serves.
I remain passionate about all these points. But no matter the strategy, the thinking, the big idea, none of it has value without close attention to the quality of execution. Doing things right and doing them right first time will have more of a fundamental impact on the energy we consume and the wealth we create than any “big idea”.
Let’s think about how we can create sustainable and equitable economic growth in what has become a fundamentally unbalanced global economy. This includes big issues like economic migration, energy security, political stability, national and international infrastructure and corporate responsibility. And so it would seem that big ideas will provide the solution to these big issues.
But maybe there are solutions to be found by simply getting better at doing the day-to-day things that we almost take for granted.
For example, we take for granted that we can buy just about anything, just about anywhere in the world. So the global logistics network works. Right? Wrong.
Today we have the technology to know where everything is at any time and to plot the most efficient route to get it where it’s needed. With that technology we can save billions; we can generate new wealth; we can get material to where it will do the most good. And yet today huge amounts of effort and paper are wasted simply getting something or someone from A to B because of out-dated process and unconnected thinking.
I am proud to participate in the Forum’s Connected World initiative. Our goal is to create a scenario for how travel, transport and supply chains could be more integrated by 2025. That’s our destination. But the change we are making is on the journey. Day in, day out, we’re finding practical – and often incrementally small – measures that break down a barrier here or create a new opportunity there for the ultra-efficient transportation of people or goods.
We are making a big impact by helping people improve the way they do the simple things that really matter.
Author: Luis Alvarez Satorre is the chief executive officer of Global Services at BT. He is participating in the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2014 in Davos-Klosters.
Image: A container ship passes in front of the Sydney skyline as it departs from Port Botany. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne